BY KIM MOSEMAN
As students walk with haste and determination around Salisbury’s campus with coffee cups and water bottles, the opportunity to recycle presents itself everywhere they turn. Salisbury University is constantly exceeding Maryland’s required recycling percentage of 15 percent, but SU still faces the challenges of encouraging students to recycle and the lack of recycling off campus.
With constant sustainability efforts and projects, the community seems to be aware of the green movement sweeping through Salisbury University. But despite this movement, the city of Salisbury still does not recycle.
This presents challenges for SU students who live in off campus apartments. Josh Jones, a freshman in the Green LLC, is very passionate about recycling on and off campus.
“Recycling is something to lure someone to the school and there’s a green movement but if you go anywhere else in Salisbury, there is no recycling,” Jones said. “I don’t want to live off campus because they don’t recycle anywhere.”
While many students are under the impression that there are no recycling options in the Salisbury community, this is not the case. Several apartment complexes surrounding Salisbury offer recycling options, but not to the large extent of SU’s campus.
University Park offers some recycling opportunities to its residents, such as a large recycling dumpster in the visitors lot and four canisters in the clubhouse. But having students separate their recycling and walk it beyond the dumpsters directly outside their buildings seems to be too much of a hassle.
“We rely on students taking the initiative to carry the recycling out to the various locations in the community, but we’re limited in terms of space and where we can add recycle bins,” community manager at UP Matthew Sessa said. “Our trash areas are well boarded to keep the aesthetic curb appeal of the property.”
University Park takes other measures outside of recycling to conserve energy, such as using LED light bulbs everywhere on the property.
Though these recycling opportunities are not as prevalent as some students and faculty would like, the real challenge comes from evoking the desire to recycle.
Salisbury University has many programs and projects that come from the 2014 Green Fund, which provides grants for projects that promote social, economic and environmental sustainability with an emphasis on the priorities of the current Climate Action Plan, according to SU’s website. Students and faculty are constantly coming up with plan and ideas to further make SU a more environmentally friendly place.
“The ability to take into account these made up ideas and test them in an experimental scale before they’re rolled out on a large scale is a fabulous method,”assistant professor for environmental science Sarah Surak said. “We can only improve our university by making sure everyone is coming up with these ideas and putting them into place.”
What makes some students hesitant to put in the extra effort to recycle is the confusion as to where it all goes after it is thrown away. At the forefront of these ideas is Horticulture and Grounds, who control the sorting and transportation of all waste and recyclables on campus.
After recycling is collected in a designated bin the garbage transportation company, Republic, then picks it up. The recycling is then transported to a recycling facility in Georgetown, Delaware.
“There’s a certain facility that handles everything,” horticulturalist Rick Shaw said. “They will sort out papers, cans, bottles, cardboard but also handle those contracts. So knowing they have that infrastructure in place assures us that ‘comingle’ is not going to disappear.”
Comingle is a descriptive term that means everything recyclable can go into one container.
“Students don’t necessarily have to take out the time to sort out their recyclables and this may up the appeal of recycling,” Shaw said.
While Salisbury University has statistically improved on the green initiative and sustainability in recent years, the success of it all is dependent on the students.
Frank Bowen, assistant director for Horticulture and Grounds, emphasizes that it is the students on and off campus that need to take the initiative to recycle for the good of the community.
“In your heart you’re doing the right thing,” Bowen said. “That’s what we really want to persuade people to do, not because money or you’re going to get a fine, but because it’s the right thing to do.”